Solvent is a chemical, which liquefies in a chemically diverse solute to make a solution. Solvent can be in liquid form but is also available in gaseous and solid form. There are two variants of solvents namely conventional solvents and organic solvents. Conventional solvents consist of glycol ethers, hydrocarbons, acetate esters, alcohols, chlorinated and ketones. Organic solvents are majorly used in traditional applications such as dry cleaning and also in manufacturing industries. Organic solvents are highly flammable in nature except chlorinated solvents. Some solvents cause health hazards such as toxicity in reproductive systems, nervous systems; it damages lungs, kidneys and can even lead to cancer. It is highly advisable to use the solvents with all the precautions in order to reduce/minimize any health hazards associated with them. Global demand for solvents has been continuously rising on account of high growth in construction sector particularly in emerging markets of Asia Pacific and Latin America.
Coatings and paints are widely used in construction and manufacturing industries, which have been leading to the increase in demand for solvents in the abovementioned end use industries. Some of the major applications of solvents include adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, printing inks. Demand for organic solvents has been continuously growing in the global market on account of its growing application across various end use industries. However, growing environmental issues coupled with volatile nature of key raw material prices is expected to remain a key challenge for industry participants. In order to reduce these effects, the industry has shifted its focus towards developing bio-based solvents which are environmentally friendly in nature. In the quest to achieve sustainability, leading solvent manufacturers have been collaborating with top biotechnology firms in order to manufacture bio-based solvents.
The overall solvent market on the basis of its action is segmented in five products namely hydrocarbons, alcohols, esters, ketones, chlorinated and others such as soy oil, glycols etc. Alcohol emerged as the leading product segment and accounted for over one fourth of the total market volume. Alcohol based solvents, along with being the largest product segment is also expected to be one of the fastest growing solvent from 2014 to 2020. Emergence of soy oil and glycol based solvents is expected to hold immense opportunities in the market space for major participants.
Printing inks, paints and coatings, pharmaceuticals, adhesives & cosmetics are four application segments that are segmented in this report. Paints and coatings emerged as the leading application segment and accounted for over 60% of total market volume in 2013. Growth of construction activities in emerging markets of China, India and Brazil is expected to spur growth for solvents in paints and coatings. Bio based solvents are used in paints and coatings to dissolve binders and colors and provide a consistency. Paint and coating along with being the largest market is also expected to be the fastest growing application market for solvent over the next six years.
Asia Pacific dominated the global market for solvents and accounted for over 40% of total market volume in 2013. Asia Pacific along with being the largest market is also expected to be the fastest growing regional market for solvent at an estimated CAGR of 3.7% from 2014 to 2020. Growth of construction spending in China and India coupled with growing industrialization rates in these countries is expected to spur growth for solvents. North America and Europe on the other hand are fairly mature markets for solvents which are about to reach saturation. These regional markets are particularly driven by green initiatives taken by regulatory bodies.
Some of the key companies operating in the global solvent markets include BASF SE, Dow Chemicals, Shell Chemicals, Sasol Solvents, ExxonMobil Corporation, Celanese Corporation, Maruzen Petrochemicals, etc.